Interview with Butch Hartman:
March 30, 2006; part 2
Thank you so much for talking with us today!   We tremendously appreciate your time!  :)  ~Z.
Show history

Zcat6:  We have heard that you came up with the idea for Danny while on a long car trip with your mum one night. When was that exactly, and can you tell us how your thoughts ran for that?  Why ghosts?  Why a 14 year old kid?  How did it all evolve in your mind?
Butch Hartman:  Here's the story: It was February 2001. My family (wife and two daughters - all gorgeous!!) and I had just moved to a new home in California. It had a guest house. My mother lived alone in Las Vegas and was getting fed up with living there so we decided it would be best for her to come and live with me for a while. So I flew to Vegas, packed her stuff in a moving truck, and together we drove out to my home in California. It's about a 5 hour drive from Vegas to California, and in a moving truck it's about 8 hours. We ran out of things to talk about at around the 3 hour mark so I had a lot of time to think as I drove. At the time I was in the middle of making the second season of Fairly Oddparents and I knew that Nick was looking for a boys' action show. So I said to myself: "Hey. I'm driving. I'm bored. I'm gonna think up a brand new boys' action show right now."  The first thing I knew I would need is a boy in the lead. Hey, "boys action show", it has to have a boy as the star. At least that's what I thought. And I wanted the boy to be in his teens since I was already doing The Fairly Oddparents and Timmy Turner was only ten. Having a teenager as the lead would give me a lot more opportunities for stories that I couldn't do with Timmy. Let's face it, there's a vast difference between a ten year old and a fourteen year old, right?  I also knew the show would have to have a super cool name for the show. When I was a kid I used to love the show "Jonny Quest". Yes, I know this probably shows how old I am, but how cool a name was that, huh? "Jonny Quest!" I thought, "Man, I need a name for a character that was at least as cool as Jonny Quest. So I started rolling cool "action" words around in my head. Something that could stand toe to toe with "Quest". You know, words like "Lightning" or "Power" or "Cucumber" (okay, not cool enough) or "Razor", you get the idea. Anyway, after a minute or two I thought "Phantom". That's a cool name. "Jonny Phantom". Then I just started messing around with different first names until I settled on Danny. "Danny Phantom". That sounded the coolest. Kind of alliterative. I almost - and this is serious - named him "Jackie". You know, after "Jackie Chan". But in the end I thought Danny was better. And it is. But it's kind of fun to know he was almost called "Jackie Phantom". Once I had the name I knew it would have to have something to do with ghost fighting or monster hunting. C'mon? "Danny Phantom"? He's not gonna fight bad breath!  I was also going to give him a group of super powered teen sidekicks to help him. The entire show was going to be called "Danny Phantom and the Specter Detectors". Once I had all of this sheer brilliance worked out I turned to my mom - I'm still driving now, remember - and said "Mom, I've got a new show idea! It's going to shake the entertainment world to its core!" Her response was something like: "That's nice, Butch. Oh look, there's a desert tortoise…" That's how excited she was.

Zcat6:  Who was the first person (besides your mum?) who shared your ideas with and what was their reaction?
Butch Hartman:  The Fairly Oddparents art director, Mr. Bob Boyle. Right as I drove onto the 101 freeway going west into Los Angeles that evening I called Bob on my cell phone and told him about the show. He was a little more excited than my mom.
Zcat6:  Would it be possible for us to see some of your earliest sketches and concept work for the series?
Butch Hartman:  Possible? Yes. Can I find them? I'll check…
Zcat6:  We heard from your talk in Macomb, MI in Nov 2005 that you originally had some slightly different ideas for the show (about Danny, the title, and how the show might run, etc.).  Can you tell us about those and why they were altered for the final version?
Butch Hartman:  See my previous answer for most of the answers to this question, but a few other tidbits are that Danny (very, very early on) was originally not going to have ghost powers. He was just going to hunt ghosts. That was it. Also, he was going to have a ghost hunting pet white owl named  - no joke - Spooky. Brilliant!! But, thank God for the Nickelodeon executives. They told me they didn't like that idea because the first Harry Potter movie was just coming out and Harry had a pet owl. Whew! Dodged that bullet! Also, Danny and Sam were going to have a "psychic link" that they shared so they always knew where the other one was. That was a pretty weird idea, but I think it's kind of neat how that developed into the two of them having such a close relationship. One other cool thing I wanted to have, and am still bummed that we never did, was to give Danny a motorcycle. From the beginning I wanted him to always ride a motorcycle like the "Ghost Rider" character in the Marvel comics. But once I decided to give him powers - and the ability to fly - he no longer needed a cycle to get around on. But, man, that would have been cool.

'Danny Phantom' and all its related characters are the exclusive intellectual property of Butch Hartman and are owned by Nickelodeon.
Butch Hartman Interview copyright 2006, Zcat6 of the Danny Phantom Online Forums. All Rights Reserved.
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